Monday, January 31, 2011

Editing Gaming Products, Part 3

I'm stranded at home with a crappy chest cold, restless and annoyed.  So I'll do something constructive.  Right now I am looking at a section of Rob's upcoming adventure, Scourge of the Demon Wolf.  I'm not in editing mode yet, just checking out format and making suggestions, but from what I can see it looks pretty good. 

On to editing gaming products part 3.  This is the most important part, developing a professional relationship with the writer.  I have experience of being on both ends of the table several times.  This first section will be from the writer's perspective and responsibilities. 

If you plan on producing your own gaming product without the assistance of a publisher it is a crucial to find an editor.  If you are one of those wunderkinds who can self-edit or gets it all right on the first try then you don't need to be reading my drivel, but if you are like me, and forget the r in shirt on a second grade spelling test and punished for a week without recess then an editor is your friend.  Hey, recess in second grade was gold time. 

Rob Conley wrote an absolutely valuable blog about a writer having to check his or her ego at the door.  This lesson seems to be the hardest for writers to learn because of their emotional investment.  Passion for what you write is the only way to write, but there is a time when you need to let it go and see how it does on its own.  I'm not saying to shut down and become a mindless zombie.  Just take a look at the changes.  Not all edits will be appropriate.  It is the writer's responsibility to consider and choose.  The editor suggests.

When writing for a larger company the writer has little to no say who edits their work.  So take the time to study who you wish to work for and see if their style suits your own.  Mostly, I've had positive experiences.  I try to learn something from the editors I worked with.  But on occasion you will find editors who are total wanks and I'll give you an example of mine.

A few years back I contracted with a gaming magazine to publish an adventure.  I should have known right away, my 'spidy sense' was going off.  The editor turned out to be an ass.  After producing a 15,000 word adventure (co written with my friend Dwayne) he then decided to send me the 'style guide' for the magazine.  It was 47 pages long.  It was laughable.  But I signed a contract and was determined to fulfill my end of the bargain.  Some of the edits were good, but some were a bit stupid to me.  The one villager was a woodsman who kept tabs on villagers.  He kept a rudimentary set of notes in his home.  The editor thought it was ridiculous that an illiterate woodsman would do this and took it out after I said I would prefer to keep it in.  I mean you got a world of spell casters, spirits rising from the grave, giants that are smashing in castle walls and this guy doesn't think the woodsman keeping tabs on his neighbors was realistic.  After two plus years, neither I nor Dwayne has received payment for what we did and as far as I know the magazine has not been published.  I wanted it to work out, but just didn't happen.  I tried to work through his demands and his petty arguments, but in the end the guy just had no respect for me or the work that was being done.

Both writer and reader need to be professional.  Writers, those deadlines are not suggestions.  Make sure you meet the deadline.  And if you cannot meet the deadline please let the company know as soon as possible.  They have editors, layout, artists and cartographers waiting for the manuscript.  It is a game, but people will be paying money for it so it's important to respect that and provide them with the best product you can deliver.

Back to the editor side of things.  Usually the first edit is when the blue pencil gets its workout.  Second edit is usually a polish.  When I go into the final edit with a piece it is read aloud with the writer (in best of circumstances).  When I did the editing for the college magazine we'd always have a night where we'd have contributors come, read aloud, eat pizza and drink beer.  By the end of night not much editing was done, but it sure made working for the magazine fun.  This is a rare situation, but I think reading a manuscript out loud is the best way to find hidden mistakes.  

I end this with saying there are no absolutes in writing or editing.  What may work for me may not be the best for you.  I claim not to be an expert just someone who has done it a handful times.  I'm still learning.  If nothing else, I won't forget the r in shirt unless I mean it next time. 

Part 4 will...there is no part four.  Go grab some dice and have fun. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Editing Gaming Products, Part 2

Let's pick up where we left off by repeating the magic number of first draft - 10% = second draft.  My disclaimer from the first part still stands.

With the math out of the way and most of the typos extracted.  Although those things are like ants and just when you think you get them all one gets in.  Another crucial part of the editing process is for the editor to find the core of the story.  The core of the adventure or encounter.  If an editor is connected with his writer's vision this should be easy.  Most of the time the writer has it there, but it gets cluttered or it is not polished or enhanced enough.  It is the editor's job to excavate this gem and polish it and his fingerprints should never be seen. 

I will use a few examples from when I edited Points of Light 2 by Rob Conley. 

1114      Misha’s Hovel

In a clearing in this small jungle lies the hut of the Night Hag Misha (15 HD). She collects various herbs and plants from the jungles for Azartec use in his experiments.

Here is where the gamer in me gets excited.  I don't think I'd ever come across a Night Hag.  I grabbed my trusty Monster Manual off the shelf and found absolute gold, "...always in search of very evil persons to slay and bring to Hades to form another larvae - a valuable commodity to both demons and devils alike."  The gamer in me was, How fricking cool is that!  The editor in me said, "That needs to be in there."  What showed up in the final copy was...

1114      Misha’s Hovel

In this clearing lies the hut of the night hag, Misha (15 HD).  She collects herbs and plants from the jungles for Azartec to use in his experiments.  Around her hut are several man-sized larvas.  They are victims of her powerful sleep spell and used as currency when dealing with Azartec.  Inside her hut are various plants that an alchemist would find useful. 

A little more flavor.  Yes, words were added, but where there was just an outline, now there is a full picture.  Still, as I look at it today I would have tossed the last sentence.  It is already inferred in the second sentence that she would have such things in her cabin and if you can, always end with something strong, "They are victims of her powerful sleep spell and used as currency when dealing with Azartec."  That is a much better place to end it.

Another example,

0513      The Fire Giant Battle

Two Fire Giant Brothers (15 HD), Surigon and Darash, are fighting a horde of 20 Fire Mephits (2 HD). The Fire Mephits know that they have little chance of winning but delight in tormenting the giants. If the Mephits are killed or driven off, the brothers will invite the party to their home further up the slope (Hex 0810).

Nothing wrong with that entry what so ever.  You have action going on and an action result afterwards.  Still I thought something was missing to give it a bit more color and life.  The addition was simple.  Here's how it ended up print.

0513      The Fire Giant Battle

Two fire giant brothers (15 HD), Surigon and Darash, are fighting a horde of 20 fire mephits (2 HD).  The Fire Mephits know that they have little chance of winning but delight in tormenting the giants.  If the mephits are killed or driven off, the brothers will invite the party to their home further up the slope (Hex 0810).  The giants are drunk and talkative.

A simple addition, but I think it fills out the encounter.  The point of these alterations was to demonstrate that an editor needs to find the gems, polish them and let them be. 

I will say Part 3 will be out tomorrow, but I doubt it.  This week for sure.  Part 3 will be about going through the edits with writer.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Editing Gaming Products: Part 1

*I reserve the right to be a hypocrite by having typos, run on sentences and incomplete thoughts in this blog.  Thank you.*

This is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of gaming.  Writing in general.  Because if it's done correctly you'll never know it was there.How many times have you purchased a gaming product that the art is good, layout is great and the premise must have been interesting enough for you to buy, but then as you start reading you find distracting typos, inconsistencies, and redundancies?  This doesn't happen with just the small one man publishing operation.  Even the big boys have problems with this one.

Before I go on I'll give you my list of very short credentials, edited a fiction magazine for one year, started and edited a college magazine, edited a couple of anthologies and a handful of gaming products.  Not a huge list, but I do have experience with editing and working with editors.  I've been writing for over two decades and worked with several editors and took away something from each one of them. 

If you plan on writing and producing a gaming product remember to leave a portion of your budget to have someone take a look at your manuscript.  Or have a friend who can read it over.  If you spend all the time to write a gaming product, searching for the right pieces of art and then all the fiddly stuff with layout so you can tie all of it together why, oh why, by all the gods good and bad would you not want someone to look over your manuscript to help point out some mistakes and places where more description is need or in other words polish this gem until is shines?  A good editor can make an okay product into a good product and a good product to a very good one (to be a great product only a great writer can do that, but still need a great editor to recognize it).  If no editing is done then it's almost a guarantee your manuscript is going to go from good to not so good, from bad to outright crappy.

Some writers get testy about others touching their words.  As if the words they have written were sacred and those who near the pages of their manuscript should fall to their knees in awe.  These are some sorry diluted bastards.  An editor needs to be brutally constructive.  A writer during the editing process needs to be quiet and listen.  Not to defend.  Just listen.  A writer gets the last say and it is important that he or she takes the time to listen to the editor and decide whether they are edits they want to keep or return to the original.  But for now, the writer needs to shut up, take the ego place it on the table and put a pin in it and sit back and listen to someone who is trying to assist them.  I know this is very difficult, but mature, seasoned writers know the value of an editor.

Back to the editor being brutally constructive.  There is a saying in writing that you need to 'kill your darlings' I think Hemmingway said that.  I take to mean you need to detach emotional significance while editing.  First draft is full of emotion, second draft is all business.  An editor will cut out extraneous words so the core of the intent shines through clearer.  If you are a math person than here is an easy formula, no matter what your manuscript length is you should be able to get rid of 10% of your words without breaking a sweat.  A first edit at least 10%.  I've been to several writing conferences spoken to several writers, editors, and agents and all agree on this number.  If you learn nothing else from this blog (that I haven't edited) then learn to find that 10% that is cluttering your message.

I'll been back tomorrow with part 2.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dying, It's Okay

Game night has come and gone and I am dead.  Ashling was frozen by the breath of a shadow dragon doing nearly double the damage as he had hit points.  But it's okay.

The adventure developed after a good ally of the party was kidnapped.  This led the party to my elven homeland and to a section of the forest that had been corrupted by demons.  An ancient forest spirit call a taigh (pronounced tag) was at the center of this corruptedness (I know it's not a real word).  A demon had managed to possess it.  Bad news.  Cool adventure.

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to approach the taigh, how we would enter the forest.  I'd considered about flying right in, but we decided not to do that for some reason.  Instead we dove right in after some preparation, we were going to use limited teleport spells in case things got too ugly.  Much of what we encountered were shadows and shadow snakes. 

One encounter I used my cube of force power when a gigantic purple worm swallowed the party hole.  Luckily the digestive juices were kept out by the cube.  Then I think we unleashed three fireballs inside of the purple worm before we got out.  That could have gotten ugly really fast. 

Then Rob used the maps for the Vile Worm and the Eldritch Oak (from BHP S&W whitebox) as the frame of the final part of the adventure.  The map for that adventure is great.  Once inside the taigh (a giant tree) we discovered the demon intertwined with the tree.  I didn't get to do too much before I was hit by the Shadow Dragon's freezing breath.  I critically failed the saving throw.  So instead of halving the damage I took double the damage.  I guess I am sorta like Han Solo now in carbon freeze, but nowhere as cool. 

Oelander and Syrinvald finished off the demon and freed the taigh and that's where it ended.  With me dead.  But like I said, it's okay.  It was a very cool adventure and Ashling took all the as many precautions as he could to increase his survival, but one bad dice roll is sometimes all it takes. 

I guess this is where I disagree with others out there who argue over a death of a character because of a bad dice roll.  I think it made the Shadow Dragon much more significant.  It was a powerful creature that should be able to wipe out someone in a single blow.  It should be able to consume a party who comes ill prepared.  Why nerf it?  Why make it easy?  Step away from the fudge and let the dice add the excitement.  I would have been less enthusiastic about the adventure had the GM taken mercy on me.  I would rather get killed in a fun game than continue on in a game where there is little danger. 

If you roll bad and die, it's okay.  Maybe my party members, if I have treated them kindly and that has yet to be determined, will find a way to bring me back.  But even if they don't I am fine with rolling up a new character and exploring the world through the new guy's eyes. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

One Ring May Rule Them All But...

It doesn't hurt to have one more.  Here's to the 7th.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gods of the Arena

I've been waiting for this to come out for a while.  Being a fan of the first Spartacus I am looking forward to the start of the new series tonight on Starz.  But, I believe they will be playing them on instant Netflix like the first series.  Because the star, Andy Whitfield, is fighting cancer they went with this 6 episode prequel showing the back story to some of the gladiators we knew in the first series.  It's filmed in the very stylized manner as the others and there is no flinching away from sex and violence.  After all it is set in Rome.  
If you are a fan of the first of missed the first series it is playing on instant on Netflix again.  Or go out and buy the bluray discs, they look incredible.  Have a great Friday everyone and see on the weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1-19-11 Newbie Blog Award

I thought it was time to announce the next winner of the Newbie Blogger Award.  Mike Monaco (no he didn't win he's a crusty old blogger) made a nomination for the next blogger who I absolutely agree deserves to get the next award.

And the winner is: Arkhein of Rather Gamey!  This is a fun blog about gaming.  I've been reading it daily.  I might misunderstand what he says sometimes or he doesn't explain it well enough or if its just both of us he does not bore.  Go join his blog.  If nothing else, read his blog, The Talk.  We may all need to do this sometime.  Be prepared!

Congrats Askhein.  Great work.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Running Total for 2011

This is probably going to be something I am going to regret, but...

My idea is to keep a list of the gaming stuff I purchase over the year to see how much I spend and what I spend it on.  I started doing this last year and the idea petered out before the end of January.  So I 'intend' to keep the list of purchases and their cost over on the right side.  It might be a good cure for those impulse purchases.  Two of which I just made.

Here goes.

Low-Tech, Knockspell and One Weird Die

Yesterday I went to my FLGS and picked up a couple of goodies.  Wasn't sure what I would find because there isn't a standard gaming stash there.  He's been getting more old-school gaming stuff in because Rob Conley has been running his Majestic Wilderlands using Swords & Wizardry ruleset there.  Trying to spread some of the OSR gospel.

I was hoping to get the 1st issue of Knockspell because it was the only one I didn't have.  I lucked out and one was there.  Then GURPS has their new Low-Tech books out and this one I went back and forth on for a short while until I cracked it open.  GURPS does not put out back books.  Period.  It's a $30 hardcover with 160 pages.  A lot of good content.  My one pet peeve with them right now is they released the book in October, I think, and already they have three companions out for it in PDF.  LT1: Philosophers & Kings, 36 pages $8.  LT2: Weapons & Warriors, 40 pages, $8.  LT3: Daily Life & Economics, 52 pages at $10.  The reason why this is a little annoying is they could have included it in the hardcover.  The Character book was $40 at 336 pages.  So now to get all of it I have to spend another $26 to get them in PDF instead of paying another $10 to get them included in the hardcover.  Grrr.  I didn't even know I was going to have a mini grumble here, but there it is.  I know gaming companies have to make money, but not by playing these number games with their public.

Big breath.  Knockspell Issue #1 which I had read when it first came out, but hadn't gotten a copy for myself until yesterday.  I like Knockspell.  Hope they come out with more issues.  I read what I could over at the forums (I cannot hide my disdain for forums)  and it looks like Knockspell is hibernation.  Hope to hear how it goes because it is a great magazine.

The last thing I got yesterday was this weird little die.  My surprise purchase.  I've been collecting strange little dies like these lately.  I figured I could use it when the players come upon an NPC that I haven't fleshed out just to get a general sense of the person's mood.  Not sure who makes this die, but it has faces on five sides and then the corresponding mood description on the other five sides.  Simple, but effective I think.

Adventure Update:
Ivy has completed her edits and most of my stuff survived although I believe her editing pen is a +5 vorpal.  Slash, hack, big ass X through a paragraph.  It's bloodier than a crazed orc horde. Since the Steelers won yesterday I can relax and have the peace of mind to go through the edits.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Inns & Taverns: The Zaros Road Crawl

Satyre over at Fame & Fortune has released a fantastic little PDF called Inns & Taverns: The Zaros Road Crawl. If you know his blog Satyre has been posting great establishment of froth and foam for some time. And I've been pestering him to put them into a PDF. Here is it. It's an 8-page PDF that details 3 establishments. It has a clean two column layout with some bits of art that accent the content. On the first page he lists his acknowledgements, including me for being patient. I told you I was pestering him. Also there is an overview of the Zaros Road and the three establishments; Zaros Road Tarvena, Minatour's Horn and the Standing Sphinx.  

Zaros Road Taverna 
Satyre starts off by giving an in-depth description of the physical structure of the surrounding area, building, and interior. Then he moves on to give details about some of the personalities you will find with and a fantastically detailed menu "They enjoy roasted goat and mutton, a rich lamb stew packed with garlic and olives, freshwater mussels boiled in butter, thick blood sausages and occasional boar meat at fair price." Most of the time I want pictures of the personalities or the building, but after reading the menu I want pictures of the food. The food is great, but that is not what this is all about. It's about making a stay over place interesting. Adventures are waiting. Satyre includes a Roadside Encounter Table to give the GM some cool situations/scene to place the players into. Then there are four adventure hooks connected with the Taverna. The players may just need a bed for the night, but may find themselves in the middle of an adventure

The Minotaur's Horn
I really like this one. It's got a 'feel' that things are gonna happen here. The menu may be small, but the wine is good. You'll find a table of traders waiting to sell you their wares. A very cool touch of atmosphere, a little bit of market to go with the drinks. Then you have the four adventure hooks you can dangle in front of those gullible adventurers. This one has a lot of room for adventure and getting your group going or a place to stop and get information. I plan on working the Minotaur's Horn into one of my villages.

The Standing Sphinx
 A very interesting place indeed. Set in an ancient ruin near the tar pit sprawls the Stand Sphinx offers a strange delight of wine and harlots to go with that wine and the possibility of a mountain witch ready to tempt you with her poppy wine, information about the tombs or some much needed healing. And this one has one of the more interesting tables, grave good for the taking. Like the others this one also has four adventure seeds to get your party rolling.

All these inns can easily be adapted into your game. There are no stats so you'll have to do a little prep and there are no maps. Satyre describes them so well those maps aren't needed, but if you need on for your game just get out that handy dandy graph or hex paper. Oh and did I mention the Zaros Road Crawl was a free download? No. So there is no excuse not to go get. So go get it now. And make sure you send Satyre a thanks, he did good. Thanks for the hard work Satyre.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Newbie Award 1-11-11

Step right up and don't be shy I've got a new blog that might catch your eye.  It's white and level and has a picture of the old green devil.  It's not for the faint of heart, it may even sicken because he claims henchmen taste like chicken.  So I will stop with rhyming I am starting to sound like a bad Dr. Seuss so please say hello to Henchmen Abuse!

Pat over at Henchmen Abuse says he's a middle-aged guy who started an old-school megadungeon campaign using Labyrinth Lord rules and middle-aged guy, who despises henchmen as the XP sponges that they truly are.  How can he not win the newbie blog award for just that.  There is only one point of disagreement I would have with Pat, while most henchmen taste like chicken those crusty alchemists taste like burnt toast with a hint of almond.
Pat has a face only a summoner could love.

Please check out Henchmen Abuse, its a very good blog full of old school goodies.  Thanks for the work you put into Pat!

Lessons Learned

My first release for GM Games, Knowledge Illuminates, is nearly finished.  I designed these One Shot Adventures, to be played in a single session.  Creating the situation and writing the adventure was the easy part.  I've done that kind of thing hundreds if not thousands of times.  Editing is also something I have done several times for different magazines and gaming products.  Plus I have a secret weapon, my wife.  She does a great job of editing or as she says, "It's pretty good once you take out all the crappy parts." 

One thing I didn’t realize was how difficult it was to do layout.  Most adventures come in a two-column format.  I don't have to do it like that, but I think it looks good.  There’s also the decision whether to do left justification or even column justification.  I like the even justification, again, because I like the way it looks on the page.  Then add some art pieces.  Hold this spot, while I digress.

Art.  I am a horrible artist, can’t draw worth a crap, so I went to RPGNow and bought a few art packs that I really like from The Forge Studios.  Their black and while drawings capture what I like and how I see my game.  Once I started putting a few drawings in to accent the adventure it really looked good.  When I become a big fat adventure writing stud, I'll commission artwork. 

Now go back to layout.  Here was my biggest problem and it's because I don't do logical order well.  I laid out the adventure before doing the final edits.  Holy fucking crap, Batman!  What problems I caused for myself, and my editor.  My text boxes were jumping from page to page, the maps vanished all together, the margins weren't quite right either, and I spilled iced tea on my keyboard.  Which has nothing to do with layout but it sure didn’t help.

Another little situation I came across was that I wanted to say my adventure used the Swords & Wizardry rules.  In the back of all those gaming books is that page long, microscopic print of the OGL that I have never read and don't understand fully.  I get the gist just like I know beef wellington is meat and pastry, but have no idea how to make it.  Luckily, my good friend Mr. Robert Conley helped me by typing up what I needed to put in the back of the book, which I very much appreciated.  Once I put this adventure to bed, I will take the time to learn more about all this legal stuff.  I tend to poo-poo that end of things, but I need to take it seriously if I want to do this somewhat competently. 

So lessons learned, don’t be afraid to invest in art.  It's like landscaping for a house, it's not needed to live there, but it increases the value.  Get all the edits out of the way before you even think about layout.  In fact, don't even say the word layout.  Learn the legalese, listen to your editor and by god, whatever you do, keep the iced tea away from the keyboard.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

All My Gaming Posts Have Been Halted

All gaming posts have been halted due to my wife making her homemade bagels.  So there will be no talking about Fortune Cards, there will be no mention of what the OSR should do, and there will absolutely be no further delay in me eating one.

And yes, I am showing all you the picture so you can be jealous.  Muhaha. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Villains, S&W Style 3

The Cult of the Dark Wolf (Modalid) is a zealous religious community that serves the dark side of the nature.  Evolon, a goddess that represents growth, rebirth and prosperity of nature.  Modalid, her brother, represents the unforgiving part of nature.  He is responsible for natural disasters, blights and predators.  Evolon is worshiped openly and grand temples have been built to honor her.  Modalid is given respect, but no temples stand to honor his name.  Though no noble likes to have the followers of the Dark Wolf in their lands very few are brave enough to turn them away. 

The following is an example of a Dark Wolf cult that would be found in nearly any town.  Where most cults hide and the members are kept secret, the faithful of Modalid walk openly among the people and in the halls of nobility.  Besides, can you really have too many dark cults in game? 

Cordel the Wolf Bearer  
7th-level Cleric, Human, Male
S: 16, D: 14, C: 16, I: 10, W: 16, Ch: 10
HP: 38, AC: 1 [18], Dam: 2d4+4, Save: 9
Equipment: +3 Leather Armor (+2 save vs. cold), +2 two-handed mace, +1 Dagger (Fang of the Umber)*, Boots of Speed, +2 Ring of Protection, Gauntlets of Swimming and Climbing

1st Level: Cure Light Wounds (2x), Detect Magic
2nd Level: Hold Person, Speak to Animals
3rd Level: Cause Disease, Speak with the Dead
4th Level: Speak with Plants
5th Level: Quest

Cordel is a large man who is in a perpetual good mood.  He wears a large hide of an albino worg and a necklace of large teeth.  A two-handed mace is strapped across back and curved knife in his belt.  Cordel dislikes the crudeness of combat.  Only when all other avenues have been exhausted does he believe combat will settle anything.  And even then he believes there is no victor.  He will preach the gospel of how nature is the true judge of all things.  It decides who lives and dies.  Entire races have vanished from existence by dropping their island into the sea, a disease that had no cure or a subtle difference that wasn't noticed until it was too late.  So drawing a sword, casting a spell seems trite and childish.

Part of Cordel's tactic is to give someone a disease to some unaware commoner then will offer to cure it the next day.  He also heal (use his Cure Light Wounds spell) to show the commoners and others that he can be trusted, to relax their guard.  Later, Cordel will send people he dislikes or those who want a favor from him on quests to further his goals.  Cordel is in the process of gathering the three shards of the Umber Sword.  He wears the first shard in his belt as a dagger and is searching for the other two pieces.  He will send these people to discover the locations of the shards.  If they die he can always send more.  And should the players or noble give him trouble, Cordel will have his Blight Wolf (see below) run through the countryside killing every crop in its wake.

His trial to advance to the next level is coming soon.  His trial is to hunt and kill an Umber Hulk on his own.  The Sword of Umber was created to kill these creatures and Cordel is aware he will need it to defeat one.  He uses his information spells to discover the whereabouts of the two other shards and the location of an umber hulk.

Cordel's entourage consists of Marcenise (see below), six 0-level men-at-arms, and four pack wives.  The blight wolf will never come into town unless summoned.  Should Cordel be killed there is a 5%/level that Modalid will extract revenge from the region in the form of a natural disaster.

2nd-level Cleric, Human, Female
S: 12, D: 9, C: 10, I: 12, W: 13, Ch: 17
HP: 8, AC: 3 [16], Dam: 1d4+2, Save: 14
Equipment: +1 Chainmail, Shield, +1 Light Mace

1st Level: Detect Magic

Marcenise is a beautiful young woman with a fierce temperament.  She dislikes commoners and anyone who dares mention her attractiveness.  Her tongue is much more powerful than her mace, but she is not afraid to knock some grabby man out of their shoes.  Marcenise is Cordel's lead wife and is responsible for the other wives performing their duties.  She berates them often.

To achieve her next goal she must take a magic item.  It must not be bought or found, she must take it.  If given the chance, Marcenise will lure one of the party members away promising a wild time, but will instead attempt to subdue them and take all their magic items. 

Blight Wolf
AC: 5 [14]
HD: 5
Attacks: Bite (1d6+3)*
Save: 12
Special: If bitten the character must make a save or contract a disease.  The limb will become useless and move through the body unless a Cure Disease spell is cast or another remedy is found.  The blight wolf can spread the disease to plants by brushing up against them.  Within a matter of days the blight can ruin all the crops in the wolf's range.
Move: 12
Challenge Level: 5/240

Blight wolves are companions given to Modalid's most faithful, those who achieve 7th level.  Blight wolves stay in the wilderness except when summoned.  When summoned they teleport to their master's side.  A cleric can do this once/day.  They appear as large black wolves with dead gray eyes.  They don't eat or sleep.  They can at will have all plants they touch contract the blight.   If the blight wolf is killed the cleric will have lost it forever.  Only one is ever given.  These are the only companions a cleric may take when they are undergoing their trials. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Fortune Cards

I'm going to come at this from a different angle than most of the blogs so far. One of the places we play is at a game store. The owner makes his living running his store. He emailed me a few weeks back and asked my opinion of these cards. I hadn't heard of them and I am always a sucker for add ons like this. I told him I find them interesting. So for his sake, the friendly neighbor gaming store, I hope they sell a ton.

Am I surprised that WotC went to these kind of cards? Yes, in timing only. I figured they would hitch that wagon onto D&D a long time ago. When gaming with inexperienced gamers, it's sometimes good to have a tangible prop for them to use.

I know Pazio has their Plot Twist cards and the several other decks they have developed and I think they're great. My favorite were the Whimsy Cards. Very simple cards that players could influence the way the game unfolded. So Fortune Cards are not new. Not by a long shot. I plan on getting a couple booster packs to check them out and go from there.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Newbie Blog Award

How about a few shits and giggles?  My wife, the notorious Happy Whisk has been getting blogger awards of late.  And I was thinking, gamers have no arbitrary awards.  So why not?  I made one.

What are the rules and how do you get your grubby hands on one?
This award is for bloggers who have been at it for 6 months or less.  But I reserve the right to ignore everything I say.  

What kind of committee has been formed to make such an important decision?
After much discussion and deliberation and watching reruns of Frasier, I decided it was up to me.  It's my award.  Get your own if you want to give one away.

How often will the prestigious Newbie Blogger Award be given?
Excellent question.

Is there any money that goes along with this award?
If the bloggers wish to bribe me I am okay with that.

How will I handle the fame that comes with the Newbie Blogger Award?
I'm afraid your life will change forever.  I have seen some bloggers stop writing after receiving the award because they had no higher goal to achieve, left their families to hang out with con girls who dress up like super heroes and one poor soul thought since he had won the award that even he could make 4e cool.  Shame.

The First Newbie Blogger Award Goes To.....

Hack & Slash
There have been a lot of great new blogs coming out so it was no easy to decide, but Hack & Slash gets the nod.  I was one of -C first followers and have been enjoying his blog for a while now.  He's an old schooler who writes some insightful blogs about the game and how he approaches it.

Congratulations -C for winning the very first, completely useless, gamer blog award that I know of.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blogs I have Been Digging

I might make this a sorta kinda regular irregular post topic.  Just list some blogs that I have been really enjoying.  Maybe I will say why, maybe I won't.  No sure.  I guess we'll see together.

Black Hole Diaries by R.W. Chandler is very new and has already dipped his toe into the new/old school gaming subject matter.  I like it.  Go check it out.

Destination Unknown by Christian has been posting some great stuff.  I mean come on the guy is posting pictures of fillet mignon and he cooks the best stuff for his gamers when they come over.  Are you kidding me?  Right there that should put him in the gamer HOF.  Christian come on down and get a gold jacket.

The Underdark Gazette by James Smith.  I am so glad James does his weekly gazette of old school news and I don't have to.  He puts a lot of work into his blog and I am always finding stuff I missed during the week.  Make sure you let him know how much you appreciate his efforts.  I know I do.

A Dungeon Master's Tale by James C.  Apparently you can;t have enough good James blogging.  Another new blog to the scene.  But in a short time he has posted a lot of great stuff.  Go check him out.

From the Sorcerer's Skull by Trey has one of the coolest worlds, The City.  He's working on a game called Weird Adventures and I will be one of the first in line to pick up a copy.

Fame & Fortune by Satyre creates a lot of very good inns and taverns.  I've been a huge fan for a while now.  I would love to see him put a collection of his inns and taverns into a PDF.  Go over there and bug him also.  It will be worth it.

Now this is not a complete list of blogs I am grooving on currently, but ones that stick out.  There are so many great blogs, but I do tend to favor the fantasy oriented ones.  If I see a blog about Traveller I hit to snooze button and go back to sleep.  And for some reason I am not huge into the creation of new monsters.  The Fungle Fargle Butt Nugget monster isn't likely to get my attention.  But what I do like is when someone takes a known critter and puts their own twist on it.  Some writes a blog about a giant orc variant I am clicking on that one all day.

I hope you check out some of the new blogs I've listed because they are worth checking out.  I like to direct traffic their way because when I just started out I had a few very cool people help me out that way.  I will probably, maybe, hope to do this regularly.  Give a shout out to the blogs that got my attention or got me thinking.

Year End Stuff

I thought I would do a year end post, but it's no longer the year end it's the beginning of a new one.  I am late.  As usual.  I don't do resolutions and not much a pontificater of past deeds, I know what I did and need to do and hopefully I will do more of the things I need to do.  Now off to the stat for Gothridge Manor.  Why not?

Top Referral Sites
RPG Bloggers
Bat in the Attic
B/X Blackrazor
Google/Organic (whatever the hell that means)
Pole and Rope
Under Dark Gazette 

Top Keywords
Gothridge Manor
The Happy Whisk
Pathfinder Kingmaker
Kingmaker Adventure Path
Homemade Dungeons
Majestic Wilderlands
Kingmaker Adventure Path Review

Top Content
Treasure Horde Generator
Rocking Your Bathroom Medieval Style
Petition of have Chgwiz Return
Pathfinder's Kingmaker Adventure Path
World Building: Villages
Fantasy Billboards in Game
Building a Wilderness Hex for Sandbox Campaign
Pictures of the BHP White Box
Allowing Class Abilities to Leak into Other Classes

Best Gaming This Year
I've been in two solid campaign this year, one with Dwayne running a post apocalyptic fantasy world ruled by demons and armies of undead.  Where Torrin the Red Hand forged out a place among all the 'evil' to make a home for himself and others.

Also, the current campaign Rob is running using his Swords & Wizardry style for his Majestic Wilderlands.  Still going strong.  Ashling a wee bit of an insane elf who has taken to being more human than humans and enjoys very fresh seafood.

Best Addition
Having Rusty, of Rusty Battle Axe, join our gaming group.  We've had a blast and I'm glad to have some new blood to our old group.

As usual, because I wrote a blog I am going to be late for work.  Have a good one and its Game Night for me.  So I am looking forward to resurrecting some mages I kinda sorta accidentally killed and see if they will believe my story when they come back.  Year